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The Institute (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Crime, Mystery | 11 October 2013 (USA)
2:08 | Trailer
A documentary on the Jejune Institute, a mind-bending San Francisco phenomenon where 10,000 people became "inducted" without ever quite realizing what they'd signed up for.


Spencer McCall





Credited cast:
Arye Bender Arye Bender ... Octavio Coleman Esq
Boston Blake Boston Blake ... Dr. Eldridge Spearmint
Jeff Hull Jeff Hull ... Creator
Chelsea London Lloyd ... Beth Foley
Gordon Mclachlan Gordon Mclachlan ... Drybones
Tracy Pfau ... Jejune Operator
Daniel Shoup Daniel Shoup ... Kelvin Williams
Carolee Gilligan Wheeler Carolee Gilligan Wheeler ... Ex-Inductee


Feature-length documentary that examines a San Francisco-based Alternate Reality Game, where thousands of participants got more than they bargained for. Told from the players' perspectives, the film looks over the precipice at an emergent new art form where the real world and fiction narratives merge to create unforeseen and often unsettling consequences. Written by Spencer McCall

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Is it a cult? Is it a game? Or is it a life-changing adventure?


Not Rated

Did You Know?


The AMC series Dispatches from Elsewhere is based on this documentary. See more »

User Reviews

Divine Nonchalance
10 May 2013 | by MrEricSirSee all my reviews

An seemingly normal office building in San Francisco held a secret; a strange office for something called The Jejune Institute.

At first glance, The Jejune Institute appears to be a cult. But some of their claims seemed outlandish even by cult standards -- a machine that records your memories to a VHS tape? A method for talking to dolphins? Huh? Those looking for a strange adventure would visit The Jejune Institute, only to be presented with a trippy presentation, a scavenger hunt, etc.

Let me assure you that this film does document many real events. Yes, people really did visit a payphone and dance. Yes, there really was a protest at Union Square. Yes, the Jejune Institute was a real place in a real office building.

I can tell you all of this for certain because I participated in The Jejune Institute and the so-called "Games of Nonchalance" that are documented in this film. I suppose I can't review a film fairly as someone who is documented in it, even if only in the background. But the film is not the game.

Ultimately, with The Institute there's a moment during the film where you star to question whether what you're seeing is real, is part of the game, or is fictionalized for the purpose of the film. I'm sure that moment will be different for everyone.

Even as someone who played Games of Nonchalance in its entirety, I'm not sure I can decipher fact from fiction with 100% accuracy. Watching The Institute for the first time felt a lot like watching Exit Through The Gift Shop, where it's unclear how much of what the camera is feeding you is true and how much the director is winking and smiling.

There's no question in my mind that this was the right decision for telling the story of the Games of Nonchalance. An alternate reality game messes with your head; for a film to capture such a game, it must do the same.

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

11 October 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Институт See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,017, 6 October 2013

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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